Almost 15 years ago, Quality Magazine first reported on the rising market for portable measuring arms in the North American manufacturing sector. As the cost of portable arms went dramatically down, shops that had never used coordinate measuring machines could suddenly afford these new, convenient machines.
Since then, portable arms like Romer have become the most popular metrology machines in the world today. They are a versatile, economical introduction to metrology beyond the gage and both a flexible alternative to bridge and gantry coordinate measuring machines and valuable when used in conjunction with them. It has no shortage of features going for it, including portability, volume, affordability, accuracy, and ruggedness.
Its portability has made it a popular tool in the hands of contract metrologists. Metrology shops like CMM, or Canadian Measurement Metrology, are often contracted to conduct measurements in their clients’ shops. While they use more accurate, stationary coordinate measuring machines in-house, such as a gantry, when metrologists bring their own equipment to your shop, they need portable CMM equipment that can fit in the trunk of their car. That’s possible with the portable arm, which can also be easily wheeled through airports; it’s also easy to assemble and disassemble. Even better, assembling and disassembling a portable arm does not require additional calibration – you only need to stick to a regular calibration schedule.
The affordability and ease-of-use of portable arms make them easy entry-level coordinate measuring machines. While they can be programmed to automatically inspect pieces, they can also be manually operated. Automatic inspection is faster and more efficient, but you first need someone who understands CMM programming to write a parts routine. PC-DMIS, the software behind Romer portable arms, is one of the easiest software programs to find training for. You can find PC-DMIS e-courses for your staff from Canadian Measurement Metrology, so that you don’t have to send your programmers out of the factory for days at a time.
Portable arms are also remarkably flexible, and they can be efficiently paired with other metrology equipment besides probing systems, especially laser scanners. Laser scanners allow portable arms to quickly collect data on complex components and reverse engineer CAD models. Sheet metal, dye work, and models are all much easier to manage with the help of a portable arm.
Last but not least, portable metrology equipment has a wider range than any stationary coordinate measuring machine, because of its unique ability to “leapfrog” across wider components. Thanks to PC-DMIS software, an operator can integrate multiple setups into a single inspection, allowing you to fully inspect oversized parts. Once the arm’s span has been reached, you simply set it up further along, while the software integrates the data points collected into a single model.
New and used portable arms are affordable and versatile metrology machines that can revolutionize the way your shop handles quality assurance. Contact a reputable metrology shop for help integrating portable arms into your inspection department, training staff, and buying the right software.